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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.45%
Worth A Look: 15.31%
Average: 25.51%
Pretty Bad31.63%
Total Crap: 5.1%

6 reviews, 62 user ratings

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Kingdom of Heaven
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Lybarger

"Looks Great: Less Fulfilling"
3 stars

The content of Sir Ridley Scottís ("Gladiator") new film about the Crusades can be encapsulated in French-Swedish actress Eva Greenís performance. Dolled up as the princess of Jerusalem, she looks mesmerizing in her exotic period clothes. Her blue eyes are just captivating. Itís too bad her character doesnít do or say anything interesting.

In many ways, Scott wound up in an untenable situation with this project. If he sided too passionately with either the Christians or Muslims in their fight for the Holy Land, heíd be accused of exacerbating the current sectarian conflicts in the region. With all the stereotypes that have been perpetuated over the years, this would have neither been morally or artistically agreeable.

This neutrality ends up feeling dry in the end. From watching the film, itís a bit hard to care who conquers. Thatís not the only trouble that screenwriter William Monahan runs into with this tale.

He and director Scott focus on a French blacksmith named Balian (Orlando Bloom), who has little reason for staying in his hometown. His wife has just killed herself after a stillborn pregnancy. Heís also ostracized because heís an illegitimate child.

His father (Liam Neeson), it turns out, happens to be a crusader named Godfrey and tries to recruit him to sail to the Holy Land. Once the two arrive, Balian discovers that the situation in Jerusalem isnít as clear cut as heís been told. Instead of a simple campaign to rid the Palestine of the infidels, the Kingdom of Jerusalem runs somewhat independently of the Vatican. Its King Baldwin (Edward Norton) has become a leper and is trying to keep an uneasy peace with Saracen leader Saladin (played with sly dignity by Ghassan Massoud).

The King tries to keep maintain tolerance and keep his bigoted brother-in-law Guy de Lusignan (Martin Csokas) from taking over when he dies. The monarch doesnít have much choice in the matter because leprosy has disfigured and is slowly killing him.

Balian now has to figure out how to defend his new home and survive the court intrigue. His transformations seem a little abrupt. Back home, he killed a priest who insulted his late wife, and here he, despite limited training from his father, manages to rival Saladin with his strategy.

Bloom does his best to handle the logic gaps that Manohan leaves in his character but has little to work with. The same could be said for Eva Green. Does she have a burning forbidden desire for Balian or is she simply trying to enforce her brother the Kingís wishes? Manohan drops hints but never seems to have thought the matter out. As a result, this core relationship winds up being a time killer until the big battle scenes.

Scott gets more results out of David Thewlis as a priest and Jeremy Irons as a war weary advisor to the King Baldwin. As the monarch, Norton has the most intriguing character of the bunch, but itís bizarre to see a name actor hidden behind a metal mask throughout the performance.

Having started as a director of commercials, Scott is guaranteed to come up with some interesting visuals, but what he makes is a breathtaking adaptation of a dull, ideologically confused story.

Monahan seems to place a lot of 21st century ideas into the mouths of his characters. Thereís nothing necessarily wrong with that. If you want history, there are several books and documentaries the viewer can consult, and great works of literature like Arthur Millerís The Crucible often use past incidents to comment on modern troubles.

That said, itís hard to buy politically correct crusaders even if they appear in a visually interesting film like this one.

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originally posted: 05/09/05 10:40:22
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User Comments

6/24/19 Edler Stunning visual masterpiece (like David Lean) but story is dull and unbelievable 3 stars
1/01/14 Marty The first movie that ever put me to sleep. Story slow and detached. 1 stars
12/08/10 Aaron S Great film. So few about the Crusades. 4 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner The Action was Amazing! 5 stars
4/09/08 action movie fan battles too short, story confusing-a failure 2 stars
3/08/08 Pamela White grand crusade film 5 stars
2/12/08 John S Sheer brilliance 5 stars
11/30/07 R.W.Welch Madness & mayhem in the Middle East (what's new?). Spectacular but excessive mumbling. 3 stars
11/07/07 MP Bartley Edit; the directors cut makes ALL the difference. Better than Gladiator. 5 stars
6/18/07 William Goss Director's cut showcases some of Scott's most spectacular filmmaking to date. 5 stars
1/11/07 MP Bartley Often spectacular, but more often patchy epic further let down by weak central performance. 3 stars
12/01/06 SabresFanatic Wonderful film. Bloom's performance is quiet and quite good! 5 stars
9/14/06 Kathryn Excellent film, especially the Director's cut. Most underrated movie of the year 5 stars
7/31/06 Steve Marc the movie rocks 5 stars
5/23/06 t3h r0x0r Very accurate. Very good. Vague like Catholocism. 5 stars
4/28/06 jimmy A new prospective of the Crusaders 5 stars
3/09/06 Dk Even better than Gladiator and thats saying something 5 stars
1/29/06 WiseMan You have to understand the Crusades to like this one. Great Effects sound music. 5 stars
12/30/05 chris f a very good movie 5 stars
12/20/05 Indrid Cold Looks great, but somehow it manages to be a very uninteresting retread of Braveheart, etc. 3 stars
12/14/05 Ginger Vague story line, what was the point? 1 stars
12/11/05 chris matt im afrid your wrong gladiator is better but this film is good to 4 stars
12/09/05 matt better than Gladiator 5 stars
11/29/05 Urban II better than I expected, makes some good points 4 stars
10/23/05 Azar Poor characterisation, religously vague, hoping for a better director's cut 2 stars
10/15/05 Quigley jeremy irons was awsome, bloom was not; the battles were to envious of LOTR. gladiator? yes 2 stars
10/09/05 Daran Historically fallous, and a complete load of tosh, give up Ridley!!! 1 stars
10/07/05 anamika pretty bad 2 stars
9/20/05 Jonathon Holmes WAY better than "Troy" & "Alexander" 5 stars
9/19/05 Glennyce Paetzmann Well...I liked it better than gladiator... 4 stars
9/13/05 ray mero Why did Scott bother? This movie is pure retro, 1930's eyewash. 1 stars
9/08/05 Ric Lacks heart and spirit; hopefully, the director's cut will be a vast improvement. 2 stars
8/14/05 Kasia OSCAR FOR NORTON !!! 4 stars
6/18/05 aldo two different cultures fight...a hero we like...Same old story...but worth seeing 4 stars
6/13/05 Sacred Zealot The best - King Baldwin 5 stars
6/11/05 herkos akhaion Battle scenes very good, story so-so 4 stars
6/09/05 John beautifully shot and a good cast - entertaining 4 stars
6/01/05 Mansur I think this Film shows almost correct history of jerusalem. 4 stars
6/01/05 carly excellent 5 stars
5/27/05 The Mockingbird just for surprising me by not sucking as much as it could have bloom less sucky than usual 3 stars
5/24/05 Sebahattin ziyanak objective 5 stars
5/21/05 Kellie It's fun to watch and seems to make a point. Some of it's self-absorbed but worthwhile. 4 stars
5/18/05 Pippin007 Better than Troy,Alexander and King Arthur. Its Ok! Lord of the Rings is better 3 stars
5/18/05 jeff one of the best midevil movies yet!!! 5 stars
5/18/05 vagile Ridley Scott's best film. 5 stars
5/17/05 Neon Not worth my time 2 stars
5/15/05 Maalstrom fairly entertaining movie except for fairly ambiguous climax 3 stars
5/15/05 jcjs i liked it 5 stars
5/12/05 --- ridiculous PC history 2 stars
5/12/05 Kristin The Crusades here are so PC that the main characters are sapped of all motivation 2 stars
5/12/05 Ralph Not at all bad, just overshadowed by Lord of the Rings 4 stars
5/11/05 Tom Mangel Pretty Bad. I thought Alexander was the worst film I saw over the last six months however, 2 stars
5/11/05 John Shannon Not awful, but not awesome. A good open to the summer. 4 stars
5/11/05 mwildema would be a good rental, because you can turn it off.. 1 stars
5/10/05 Morrigan Not a classic, but not bad by any stretch of the imagination. 4 stars
5/10/05 KingNeutron Apparently, Saladin was an honorable - and incredibly generous - man. 4 stars
5/10/05 Naka Crap. Simpleminded, pretentious, overwrought crap. 2 stars
5/10/05 Gini I really enjoyed it. Expect something slower and more measured 4 stars
5/08/05 Dan Great movie, great message... don't know how you all found it boring. 5 stars
5/08/05 saturn plenty of bad lines and acting and boring as hell 2 stars
5/06/05 jack bad script - and fell asleep in the last 1/2 hr 2 stars
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  06-May-2005 (R)
  DVD: 23-May-2006



Directed by
  Ridley Scott

Written by
  William Monahan

  Orlando Bloom
  Eva Green
  Jeremy Irons
  Brendan Gleeson
  Liam Neeson
  Edward Norton

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